Organelle size scaling over embryonic development

Chase C. Wesley, Sampada Mishra, Daniel L. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cell division without growth results in progressive cell size reductions during early embryonic development. How do the sizes of intracellular structures and organelles scale with cell size and what are the functional implications of such scaling relationships? Model organisms, in particular Caenorhabditis elegans worms, Drosophila melanogaster flies, Xenopus laevis frogs, and Mus musculus mice, have provided insights into developmental size scaling of the nucleus, mitotic spindle, and chromosomes. Nuclear size is regulated by nucleocytoplasmic transport, nuclear envelope proteins, and the cytoskeleton. Regulators of microtubule dynamics and chromatin compaction modulate spindle and mitotic chromosome size scaling, respectively. Developmental scaling relationships for membrane-bound organelles, like the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi, mitochondria, and lysosomes, have been less studied, although new imaging approaches promise to rectify this deficiency. While models that invoke limiting components and dynamic regulation of assembly and disassembly can account for some size scaling relationships in early embryos, it will be exciting to investigate the contribution of newer concepts in cell biology such as phase separation and interorganellar contacts. With a growing understanding of the underlying mechanisms of organelle size scaling, future studies promise to uncover the significance of proper scaling for cell function and embryonic development, as well as how aberrant scaling contributes to disease. This article is categorized under:. Establishment of Spatial and Temporal Patterns > Regulation of Size, Proportion, and Timing. Early Embryonic Development > Fertilization to Gastrulation. Comparative Development and Evolution > Model Systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere376
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • chromosomes
  • embryonic development
  • mitotic spindle
  • nucleus
  • organelle size scaling


Dive into the research topics of 'Organelle size scaling over embryonic development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this